For the past year or so, maybe longer, I’ve been lamenting how much we all lose ourselves in busyness. We complain about it, but on the other hand we all kind of wear it as a badge of honor. How are you? “Busy, busy!” “Crazy busy!” “I’ve got my hands full!”

Ugh. I’ve tried to avoid the pitfalls.

And, yet. I have three kids. I have a business. I have familial, social, and community obligations. I even have a husband who enjoys spending time with me when I’m not a tornado of activity and logistics. In an effort to keep this particularly busy season sane, I’m limiting the number of sessions I’m going to accept. Below is the basic run down. For more details and up-to-date availability, please email or call me.

I hope I get to see many of my favorite families before the year is out, and that you’ll all join me in trying to slow down and enjoy what’s left of it.


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“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

This family embodies Emerson’s words. I loved this session so much I will let the images do most of the talking. I will say that this gorgeous family made my job easy, and that I have never seen a toddler so completely joyful and fearless in the ocean.

When she told me there was a jungle in their backyard, I thought she was exaggerating.

On to the ocean. Little man was one month old.

2013-06_Vranicar58Jennifer Mendoza Photography - Jacksonville Beach Newborn and Family Photography

Jennifer Mendoza Photography - Jacksonville Beach Newborn and Family Photography

Jennifer Mendoza Photography - Jacksonville Beach Newborn and Family Photography


Congratulations on your new life as a foursome, V family.

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I love that this couple has known each other since they were not much older than their boys are now. I love that they have bounced around the world together (and apart) and seem to be as connected to each other and their neighbors as if they’d always been in the same spot where they met many years ago.

These photos were taken the same week that Daddy came home from deployment, stormy weather made planning difficult, and their house was getting major work in anticipation of selling and moving! This mama is one of those super women who you would really want to dislike if she weren’t so genuinely kind, generous, and likable. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s a great cook that loves to share! 😉



Best of luck to you guys. I know you’ll land well and I hope our paths cross again after this summer.

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(I will be continually adding to the list, so bookmark or pin this page. And, please send me your ideas!)

This time last year, I was in a complete state of panic.

CA was turning one, and we were hosting an extravaganza to celebrate. The school year was coming to a close. Our calendar was full of all the accompanying year-end activities. There were work and grown up social commitments to fulfill. (Side note: a friend told me recently that May is the new December. Sounds odd, but is SO TRUE). But what was truly behind the crazy look in my eyes, the one that caused more than one friend to ask very solemnly, “are you okay?” was the fear of entertaining (I mean mothering, nurturing, caring for…oh, you know what I mean) three kids for three months, without school and extracurriculars to eat up most of the day. Three mobile, energetic, opinionated, kids; each with their unique personalities, preferences and needs. I can not recall the last time I felt that scared.

I even started having my old stress dream from college. The one where I finally admit to myself that I enrolled in an advanced course of some sort, usually math, and I have yet to attend a SINGLE CLASS. It is well past the midterm, so too late to withdraw and avoid the big shameful F that I deserve. I am not the type to beg for mercy, but even if I was, I can’t figure out where the classroom is or which professor I have to sweet talk to get out of this mess. About the time that I’m running through endless hallways and opening doors to wrong classroom after wrong classroom, I wake up feeling exhausted and defeated.

But back to my impending disaster of a summer….

In an ideal world, like the one my Pinterest alter ego lives in, I would have the entire break mapped out and color coordinated, right down to the healthy homemade organic treats we would make together using ingredients grown in our own raised bed native plant garden. I would know the dates of all the educational events that were happening between June and August, and scheduled any travel dates or doctors appointments around these. I’d have tickets to baseball games, a membership to the zoo, signed each kid for the perfect week or two of camp. But, no. On the last week of school, I was scrambling and panicked.

My solution was to create a giant summer to-do checklist. Basically, when the troops were getting restless I would scan the list for an idea. As much as I make fun of  it, many of the ideas/recipes actually did come from Pinterest, so check out my “With Kids” board for more details. Generally our results were not blog/pin-worthy, but we had fun with it. For us this was the perfect compromise between forethought and spontaneity (read: chaos). After I shared a photo of our list on Facebook, so many friends asked about it that I decided to write a post about this year’s version. We haven’t made our actual list yet, because that is our day one activity, but below are my suggestions. A challenge we have is the age range in our house, which is 2, almost 5, and very precocious 8. Thank goodness some things, like forts and ginormous bubbles, easily appeal to all ages.

Feel free to add ideas in the comments!


This is last year’s list with some new additions. Many of last year’s we will happily repeat and many we never got around to.  Most can be thrown together at a moment’s notice, but some are daytrips. These are in no particular order.

  • Go on a scavenger hunt
  • Make/do and backyard obstacle course
  • Make play dough
  • Make ice cream and magic shell
  • Make popsicles
  • Go on a picnic
  • Fly kites
  • Practice Tagalog (I’m Filipino. Insert desired foreign language of your choice)
  • Plant avocadoes
  • Learn hand clapping songs (Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack…)
  • Salt painting
  • Sidewalk paintings
  • Mani/pedis
  • Recreate The Gazillion Bubble Show (we’d seen this in NYC earlier last year).
  • Chamblins (used book store) Kids Reading Club
  • (Learn to) ride bikes. Take off training wheels!
  • Library story time
  • Stomp in puddles
  • Stay up late for outdoor movie night
  • Plein air painting
  • RAM
  • Hanna Park splash park
  • Yoga
  • Visit a new park
  • Alligator Farm
  • Marineland
  • Tree Hill Nature Center
  • Kid $1 movies
  • Fort Clinch
  • Mayport Ferry
  • Downtown Water Taxi
  • Riverside Trolley
  • JTA Skyway
  • Suns game
  • Bowling
  • Sprinklers
  • Decorate the tree house
  • Camp in the backyard
  • Star and cloud gazing. Find shapes in the clouds and constellations.
  • Catch fireflies
  • Build Sand Castles
  • Fishing
  • Walk across bridges
  • School library, AR summer reading
  • MOSH preK mornings
  • Cummer
  • Camp Cummer
  • MOCA
  • Hands On Children’s Museum
  • See live music
  • Listen to more of Mom’s music
  • Catty Shack
  • Kids Kampus playground
  • Jacksonville Zoo
  • Visit Sally Animatronics
  • Treaty Oak
  • Geocaching or Letterboxing
  • Write and send letters
  • Barnes and Noble story time (even though it always makes me think of You’ve Got Mail)
  • Read lots and lots of books
  • Origami
  • Self Portraits
  • Paint portraits of each other
  • Bedroom mural
  • Silhouettes
  • Itchetucknee Springs tubing
  • Ginny Springs
  • Blue Springs
  • Kingsley Plantation
  • Little/Big Talbot
  • Kayak or canoe
  • Play board games
  • Cumberland Island
  • De Leon Spring
  • Jekyll Island
  • Play card games
  • Learn checkers
  • Learn chess
  • Make cookies
  • Watch movies all day
  • Build forts outside
  • Lemonade stand
  • Make a time capsule
  • Have a tea party with real tea and crustless sandwiches
  • Water balloons
  • Learn the basics of baseball
  • Play kickball
  • Bike “carwash”
  • Learn how to make Mommy’s pancakes
  • Put on song and dance shows with friends
  • Buy a treat from the ice cream truck (even if we have to chase it down)
  • Visit flea market
  • Farmer’s market
  • Eat something we grew

Updates from the original May 2013 list:

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